2016 NFL Week 3 Preview: Patriots vs. Texans
When I think about the Patriots playing the Texans, the first thing that comes to mind is the 2012 season when they took a trip up to Foxboro with the entire team donning Letterman Jackets. They then proceeded to get shellacked 42-14 despite coming into Gillette boasting an 11-1 record. They’ve definitely come a long way since, but Bill O’Brien has a ways to go before he catches up to his former boss. All things being equal, I would already be looking on to the Bills and chalk this one up as a W. But with a team as banged up as New England is, they’re going to have to earn this win against JJ Watt and one of the league’s best defenses.
The most noticeable aspect of Houston’s organization is its familiarity with and resemblance to the Patriots. They’re made up of former Pats coaches like O’Brien, Romeo Crennel, and Mike Vrabel (who also played for NE), and we’ll also see a familiar face when Big Vince anchors the middle of that defensive line. There definitely isn’t a team in the league that knows us better than the Texans. The one advantage that Belichick has (and you know he will exploit it) is the unknown. It’s Wednesday morning as I’m writing this, and we still don’t know if Jacoby Brissett or Jimmy Garoppolo will be the starting quarterback. Bill is going to make the Texans prepare for both, and he should.
On offense, the Patriots will be reintroduced to Brock Osweiler, whom they lost to last season. Their main focus will be stopping his #1 target DeAndre Hopkins, who I personally think is the best WR in the game not named Antonio Brown. Not to be overlooked is a familiar foe during his time in Miami in Lamar Miller. Miller is 2nd in the league in total rushes, and I watched him put the nail in the Chiefs’ coffin last week. 3-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year JJ Watt, who I know is dying to hit a rookie quarterback, leads the Texans defense. Vince Wilfork may be past his prime after 12 years in New England and 1 in Houston, but he’s still a handful to deal with in the running game. Johnathan Joseph will likely get the assignment of covering Edelman, and if Brissett is under center the veteran CB will try to bait a mistake or two. I have a feeling Gronk will be back for this game as well, but in case he’s not, Quintin Demps will try to slow down Martellus Bennett who is coming off a huge game.
We likely won’t get a clearer picture on this game until shortly before kickoff when we find out whom the starting QB will be. The Patriots’ defense is still feeling the embarrassment of letting Ryan Tannehill almost beat them at home after holding a 31-3 lead, so I fully expect them to bounce back and for this to be a low-scoring affair. If Jacoby Brissett starts, he will be the first black QB to ever start for the Patriots, which makes me want to cry thug tears of joy. The Pats come into this game as underdogs for the 2nd time this season, but I feel like they find a way to win even if they have to rely on a 3rd string QB. Belichick rarely loses to a QB two times in a row, especially one as wet behind the ears as Brock is. So I say the Pats escape in a close one, but wouldn't be the slightest bit surprised if a vanilla offense led by an injured Jimmy/Brissett are incapable to pull it out. Besides, this is all kosher until TB12 comes back week 5 and we really start to take shape.